I'm a holiday junkie, it doesn't help that in my retail focused job we've been talking, planning and working on "the holidays" since July...so this gives me PLENTY of time to think about what was to come for my own holiday plans. I am lucky to have fond childhood memories of cookie decorating parties, party mix making, tearing bread for stuffing in front of the Macy's parade on TV and an annual church concert with a beautiful handbell choir.
While some of these traditions remain, as I (and maybe you too?) move into the next phase of my life, I find it important to also start traditions of my own. These traditions are what the holidays are made of. There are no rules to what your traditions are, but I encourage you to write them down, carry some from your own childhood and of course, create new ones. The holidays can be about so much more than things - and looking forward to some of your own annual traditions is a lot more fun than dreading the ones you are 'supposed' to do.
Thanksgiving Morning Run: It's a quickly growing Indy tradition, but running the Drumstick Dash through Broad Ripple on Thanksgiving is an event we share with thousands of others. Giving back to Gleaner's, this is a win-win event with a fun, family spirit. As an added bonus, that piece of pie feels a lot less guilty after a morning run. Post-family-dinner, come back to Broad Ripple for a beer; it's eerily quiet and there are a few surprise places open Thanksgiving afternoon.
Christmas Day Movie: For some reason, as a kid, I felt like everyone else did this. Realistically (based on last year's somewhat empty theater), it's likely that few do. But, after a few days straight with lots of family and friend exposure, a Christmas afternoon or evening movie is a perfect reprieve. Do note: booze is not sold on Christmas day in Indiana & Keystone Arts does feel a little weird without a drink in hand.
An Amazing Cheese Plate: I really can find a way to incorporate cheese into almost every celebration. Overbuying for Christmas Eve results in some leftovers for Christmas morning brunch (and, of course, there are no rules or calories during the holidays).
Christmas Eve Sushi: Because why not? Chances are, you are eating heavily for most of the holidays - so mixing it up with some takeout sushi (along with appetizers) the night before Santa arrives is an annual tradition I look forward to.
Ugly Ornament Exchange: My college roommates and I have been doing this for years. It's so fun to spend the month leading up to this dinner/exchange trying to find the ugliest ornament possible. I look everywhere. We also get everyone a "real" ornament in addition to the ugly ornament. It's fairly low cost and the focus is on getting together and having fun (...and some wine) - which is really what we all need during the holidays!
Linnea's Lights Holiday Candles: These candles are amazing and smell like all things winter - but not overpoweringly so. Usually, they come out with a three mini-candle gift set. When this happens, run to Uber Boutique and thank me later.
Here are a few traditions I'd like to add (or at least try) this year or maybe next. Remember, this isn't a checklist - it's the holidays.
Picking Out A Tree: I admit, I haven't been too motivated to get a tree or decorate it the last couple of years. It just hasn't been important with no kids & busy schedules. I want to go pick out a live, small evergreen at Habig's and start that as a tradition. Someday.
Holiday Craft Night: A night to get together with some girls, do a craft to keep (holiday decor) and one to give... you know, tackling a couple of the 387 Pinterest projects you've pinned.
Christmas Eve Fire: Okay, this is really out of my court, but as cliche as it is, a fire in the fire place on Christmas Eve sounds like something I could get used to. Along with some spiked hot chocolate... I'm in.
Faking An Amazing Dessert: I love to cook, but I'm awful at baking. It's too exact. And "a little of this" and "a little of that" doesn't work too well with baking soda and flour rations. I'd like to find a place that will bake for me and make it look almost homemade or maybe just a made-from-scratch pumpkin pie recipe I can't screw up.
Bonus: A favorite recipe that is becoming a tradition of sorts for our families is a simple roasted vegetable side dish: Fresh herbs are key, as is using agave as the sweetener. Just having these baking makes you feel in the holiday spirit. It's the easiest recipe, but gets rave reviews. Suggested vegetables: butternut squash, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, parsnips, carrots, onions, etc. Cook squash first (whole). Cut all vegetables (including squash) into 1"-2" organic pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt & pepper and rosemary & thyme sprigs. Roast for 20-30 minutes. Add agave (drizzle generously). Continue roasting for 15-20 minutes, watching closely. Add additional salt/pepper and garnish with additional thyme and rosemary.